THE 10 GREATEST REVIVALS BY ELMER L. TOWNS & DOUGLAS PORTER
1. History’s Greatest Revival: The 1904 Revival — 1904
According to the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr, former professor of Awakenings at Fuller Theological
Seminary, history’s greatest revival took place in the early years of the Twentieth Century,
including the Welsh Revival, the Asuza Street Revival, the Korean Pentecost, the Manchurian
Revival, and the Mizo Outpouring.
2. The First Great Awakening—1727-1750
Early in the Eighteenth Century, revival so impacted the church that the movement simply
became known as the Great Awakening, but British historians often refer to it as the Evangelical
Revival, which includes the Moravian Revival at Hernhutt in Germany, the ministry of Jonathon
Edwards and the Surprising Work of God in Northampton in New England, the Fetter Lane
Watchnight Revival of England that was the forerunner to the Methodist Church, and the
Crossweeksung Indian Revival of David Brainerd. These revivals kept England and America
from the horrors of the French Revolution.
3. The Second Great Awakening—1780-1810
In the Second Great Awakening sometimes God poured out His spirit in a quiet way that shaped the lives of those it touched for a generation. On other occasions, revivals were marked with loud and violent manifestations. This chapter includes the stories of Cornwall’s Christmas Revival of England, the Yale Revival under college president Timothy Dwight, the Cane Ridge Revival on the frontier of America and later ministry of Peter Cartwright, the revival ministry of Robert Haldane in Geneva’s Second Reformation, Ashael Nettleton and the Bridgewater Revival of Scotland, and the AmherstCollegeRevival. Some historians call this the greates trevival,not for what it did for the church, but how it changed the secular world. The Second Great Awakening resulted in the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor, the beginning of the feminist movement, the move for universal literacy, and the reformation of prisons, among its greatest contributions.
4. The General Awakening—1830-1840
There appears to have been a significant outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1830s and 1840s
that is called the General Awakening. This chapter looks at several local manifestations including
Charles Finney’s Rochester Revival, the ministry of Titus Coan in the Hawaiian Revival, the
Kilsyth Anniversary Revival, and the revivalistic outreach associated with the Mississippi Valley
Enterprise in America evangelized the American frontier and established churches.
5. The Layman’s Prayer Revival—1857-1861
During the “Layman’s Prayer Revival” there was no dominant revival leader but the movement
grew by lay motivation. This chapter includes the stories of Hamilton’s Wesleyan Methodist
Revival in Canada, the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting in New York that grew out of Jeremiah
Lanphier’s noon hour prayer meetings, the Ulster Revival of 1859, the Jamaican Revival of
1860, and the revival accompanying Moody’s British Evangelistic Campaigns.
6. The World War II Revival—1935-1950
Many revivals are associated with the beginning or end of military conflict, the World War II
Revival touched many parts of the world because of threat from world-wide war. This chapter
looks at local manifestations of the New Zealand Revival, the rise of Billy Graham following his
historic Los Angeles Crusade, and the revival ministry of Duncan Campbell in the Lewis
Awakening of Scotland. A local manifestation of this revival (The Bonnabella Revival) resulted
in the conversion of one of the authors of this book (Towns).
7. The Baby Boomer Revival—1965-1975
The Holy Spirit touched the world during the clash of dreams. Those who fought World War II
had their dreams of peace, but their children, i.e., the Baby Boomer generation, rejected their
ideals and refused to live out their parents’ expectations. This chapter considers the rise of the
Jesus People in California, and the Independent Baptist Revival that reflected the growth of mega
churches around the world. The East Timor Indonesian Revival alerted the West to what God was
doing in the East, the Asbury College Revival sparked similar revivals in colleges across America
and the Saskatoon Revival touched Western Canada. A local manifestation of this revival resulted
in one of the authors of this book responding to God’s call upon his life for ministry (Porter).
8. Pre-Reformation European Revivals—1300-1500
Out of a thousand years of spiritual darkness (the Dark Ages) come the stories of God beginning
to work in unusual ways bringing revival to a remnant who longed to experience His presence.
These revivals ushered in the world-changing Protestant Reformation movements such as
England’s Lollard Revival, the Burning of John Hus at the stake, and Savonarola’s Florence
Revival in Italy.
9. The Protestant Reformation—1517
When Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle, Germany in 1517, it
was the most significant religious event of the church from Pentecost to the present day. Luther
began the Protestant Reformation that separated forever Protestants from the Roman Catholic
Church. Although much of the success of the Protestant Reformation was due in part to the
support of political leaders who saw it as a way to break free from Rome’s political authority, it
would be wrong to not recognize the work of God in the lives of individuals and groups during
the reformation era. This chapter looks briefly at the theological contributions of Luther, Zwingli,
Calvin and Knox, then consider the Huguenot Revival in France, the birth of the Swiss Brethren
and rise of the Anabaptist movement, the Brethren of the Common Life in Germany and rise of
Pietism, and the Communion Revival at Shotts.
10. Pentecost, the Beginning of Revival—A.D. 30
The New Testament began with a new phenomenon of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and has
become the model and basis of all future revivals. While this is the greatest outpouring of God on
His people, because everything else rests on Pentecost, it is placed last in the list of ten revivals
as the foundation upon which all succeeding revivals rest. This chapter tells the foundational
story of the greatest revivals in history including the Jerusalem Revival on the Day of Pentecost,
and Paul’s ministry in that city.